ACTION ALERT: March on June 30 -- Protest Defense Contractors Profiting Off Separation of Immigrant Families
June 29, 2018
Win Without War & The Daily Beast & SF.Curbed.com
The Trump administration is planning to imprison migrant families on a military base that is a toxic Superfund site. Major defense contractors are raking in cash from surveilling migrant kids and keeping them from their parents. Trump's cruel immigration policies are a national emergency -- and they're directly propped up by the war machine. Marches nationwide on Saturday will protest Trump's inhumane policies.
"Families Belong Together" -- March on June 30
Win Without War
(June 28, 2018) -- In California, the Trump administration is planning to imprison migrant families on a military base that is a toxic Superfund site. Major defense contractors are raking in cash from surveilling migrant kids and keeping them from their parents. Trump's cruel immigration policies are a national emergency -- and they're directly propped up by the war machine.
We. Must. Mobilize.
We're taking to the streets. Win Without War is joining dozens of partners and hundreds of thousands of activists rallying in 600 cities and all 50 states THIS SATURDAY. The only way we can tear down the Trump administration's walls, bans, wars, and hate -- is together. Are you in?
ACTION: Click here to find a #FamiliesBelongTogether rally near you on Saturday.
This week's news has been nothing short of terrifying. In the past few days:
* The Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration's vile, bigoted Muslim Ban.
* The reports of what migrant families are facing -- from tent camps in 100 degree heat, to kids torn from their parents with zero identification -- keep getting worse.
* More SCOTUS decisions attacked workers' rights and undermined reproductive freedom.
* And Trump will likely get to stack the Supreme Court to lock in his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim agenda for the long haul.
The Trump administration is targeting communities already most harmed by our violence-first foreign policy. Trump is terrorizing migrants fleeing violence in Central America fueled by US military interventions. He is banning and dehumanizing Muslims traveling from countries bombarded by US bombs. The time to raise our voices is now.
Let's show the Trump administration that we will not be silent in the face of their white supremacist, warmongering agenda. Join us this Saturday near Berkeley to say: Families belong together -- not detained, banned, or torn apart.
Can't attend? Chip in to the following frontline organizations working to organize border communities and free detained immigrant families.
Al Otro Lado -- Legal services organization serving indigent deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico; https://www.alotrolado.org
The Florence Project -- Providing free legal and social services to detained immigrants in Arizona; https://firrp.org/
Fuerza Del Valle -- Building a movement for worker rights in the borderlands and beyond; http://www.fuerzadelvalle.org/
La Union del Pueblo Entero -- Founded by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, a community union building power in the Rio Grande Valley; https://lupenet.org/
Neta -- A bilingual, Latinx-run multimedia platform in the Rio Grande Valley that amplifies the voices of border residents; https://www.netargv.com
Mijente -- A national hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing; https://mijente.net
Texas Civil Rights Project -- Using legal advocacy to reunite migrant families in Texas; https://texascivilrightsproject.org
United We Dream Action -- The advocacy and action arm of the largest immigrant youth-led network in the country; https://unitedwedream.org/
Thank you for working for peace,
Mariam, Cassandra, Tara, and the Win Without War team
Defense Contractors Cashing In On Immigrant Kids' Detention
A scandal-plagued company that used to work for the CIA
is poised to profit off the influx of immigrant children being
forcibly separated from their parents
Betsy Woodruff and Spencer Acerman / The Daily Beast
(June 14, 2018) -- Separating refugee and immigrant children from their parents isn't just an emotionally wrenching policy. It's an enterprise that is benefitting intelligence and defense contractors.
Those contractors -- including one with a history of scandals -- have advertised a flurry of jobs in recent weeks to support the infrastructure surrounding undocumented children whom the Trump administration has taken from their families.
One of them, from Virginia-based MVM Inc., seeks a compliance coordinator to help in San Antonio with the "rapid deployment of an Emergency Influx Shelter for unaccompanied children." As billed, the coordinator would ensure the children's shelter met "policies and procedures" set by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement. MVM posted the job on its website this week.
MVM appears to believe its business is growing. A job posting on Indeed.com from 20 days ago advertises for youth care workers "in anticipation of a contract award."
Matthew Kolken, an immigration attorney who frequently represents undocumented children, told The Daily Beast he's deeply concerned about these contractors' child care work.
"I'm guessing that in their mission statement, one of the central components isn't the care of refugee children," he said. "It is mind-blowing that those types of industries would be even considered with respect to the care of children. They're not equipped to be able to do it. Would you want your child to be dropped off in their hands? I know I wouldn't."
"It is mind-blowing that those types of industries would be even considered with respect to the care of children. Would you want your child to be dropped off in their hands? I know I wouldn't."
-- Immigration attorney Matthew Kolken
Because of a new Justice Department zero-tolerance policy toward people entering the country illegally, parents caught bringing their children to the United States -- including those seeking asylum -- are automatically arrested and detained pending immigration court proceedings. Previously, some parents were let out on bond, often with ankle monitors.
Hundreds and hundreds of children have been separated from their newly detained parents since the policy change. The children enter the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. ORR puts the children in shelters or foster care. This is where the contractors come in: to help ORR with the logistics of caring for these children. The shelters that house children appear to be operating above capacity.
A child-advocate contract in pre-solicitation from ORR on June 1 bluntly described the "traumatic situations" undocumented children separated from their families have survived in their home countries. Many such children experienced "dire poverty, war, forced military or gang recruitment, human trafficking, domestic violence, abuse, familial separation and government neglect."
These include "very young" children, mostly with minimal education, and after "apprehension by DHS [the Department of Homeland Security] and transfer to ORR, these children face a complicated legal system."
The contract seeks companies that can develop child-advocacy programs to serve "a minimum of 550 minors" in Brownsville, San Antonio, Houston, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and the New York and D.C. metro areas.
MVM bills itself as having "extensive domain expertise in counter-narcotics, criminal and civil investigations, public safety, and national security." It's perhaps better known as a security contractor for US intelligence.
In 2008, MVM lost a lucrative contract with the Central Intelligence Agency in Iraq for, The Wall Street Journal reported, "failing to provide enough armed guards." It also faced internal allegations that its guards in Iraq, which worked for both the CIA and the National Security Agency, "were procuring and possessing unauthorized weapons and explosives," according to a since-dismissed lawsuit from an Army Special Forces veteran employee who unsuccessfully claimed wrongful termination after blowing the whistle.
More recently, in July 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued MVM after finding that the firm retaliated against one of its security guards, a practicing Muslim, by forcing him to shave his beard after he reported a supervisor called him a "n**ga." The company settled the case months later for $135,000. And it hasn't been the only recent example of what the EEOC has considered discrimination.
Joe Arabit, the director of MVM's homeland security and public safety division, told The Daily Beast that its contracts "are unrelated to the examples you raise. And, I'd point out that the recent allegations you mention of discrimination and harassment have been found through investigations and arbitration to be without merit. MVM, Inc. prides itself on being an inclusive company that creates a welcoming and diverse workplace."
Asked if it was appropriate for security and intelligence firm like MVM to be responsible for children in vulnerable circumstances, Arabit replied: "MVM, Inc.'s top priority is the welfare of children while they are in our care. We are a trusted partner of ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and ORR because of the respect and dedication with which we treat those whom we transport.
Managing the transportation, security, and shelter needs of these children is a highly sensitive matter, and the safety of those in our care is the most important thing. Per our contract, we are limited in what information we can share."
The ORR compliance officer, MVM advertises, ought to be someone who "loves the challenge of finding creative solution for dynamic, complex issues." MVM wants a subject-matter expert familiar with "a variety of government policies that affect the children that are in shelter care."
Another San Antonio-based MVM job, posted on LinkedIn three weeks ago, seeks a bilingual "transport specialist" with "compassion for children." The position will accompany "unaccompanied minors of all age groups… via domestic flights and/or ground transportation to select government facilities."
On such trips, the specialist, who must speak both Spanish and English, will "communicate with children and teens in a way that is culturally-sensitive, while fostering a safe and humane environment." The part-time job is billed to holders of security clearances for unspecified reasons that Arabit said were determined by the government.
Recent MVM postings indicate employment opportunities for similar traveling youth-care workers in Phoenix ("be honest, act with integrity, and keep the conversation focused on helping and nurturing children") and McAllen, Texas -- where US Sen. Jeff Merkley recently visited an asylum center owing to his "significant concern about children being separated from their families when their families are seeking asylum."
Federal Contracting databases show MVM was awarded a contract worth up to $8 million over the next five years. The contract, kicked off in September 2017, calls for the company to provide assistance in emergency shelter operations for unaccompanied children and extends through September 2022.
In addition to MVM's work with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), it also has contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for transporting unaccompanied undocumented children around McAllen. According to a contractor database, the work has earned MVM nearly $43 million since last September.
Arabit didn't quantify the dollar amount of ICE and ORR's contracts specifically. He said MVM held "multimillion-dollar contracts" providing for "multiple forms of transportation, food, shelter, clothing, and other expenses related to managing these ICE and ORR programs."
The company has been contracted with ICE for its transportation services for unaccompanied immigrant children since 2014, Arabit said, and for ORR's "temporary shelter services for unaccompanied children since 2017."
It's not just MVM. The defense contracting giant General Dynamics is advertising a data-entry position within ORR's case-coordination program for undocumented children that will, among other things, monitor youths' cases as they move through the system.
Other General Dynamics jobs for ORR involve policy analysis; tracking "new placements and progress of minors in ORR funded care"; supporting ORR's director in, among other tasks, "review[ing] files and redact[ing] information as directed."
"In addition to MVM's work with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, it also has contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for transporting unaccompanied undocumented children. The work has earned MVM nearly $43 million since last September."
"It looks right now that the Trump administration's policies regarding immigration is proving to be a relatively lucrative area for private contractors," said Neil Gordon, an investigator with the Project on Government Oversight who maintains a contractor-misconduct database, though he wasn't able to quantify the surge.
"I'm concerned with these companies' track records. Have they been properly thoroughly vetted to ensure their performance histories are relatively satisfactory? Do they have recent cases of misconduct levied against them, any sort of pending legal or enforcement matters concerning issues of misconduct?"
General Dynamics was the third largest federal contractor by dollar amount, with $15 billion in government contracts in fiscal 2017. According to Gordon's database, it's faced $280.3 million in penalties for 23 misconduct cases since 1995. It has been contracting with the Office of Refugee Resettlement since 2010, as Reuters detailed. A General Dynamics representative referred The Daily Beast to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
A representative for HHS, which encompasses ORR, said the department was unable to respond by The Daily Beast's deadline.
According to The New York Times, ORR's warren of children's shelters stretches to 100 in 17 states, with a heavy concentration in south Texas, serving over 11,000 children separated from their families.
Additional reporting by Adam Rawnsley
Immigrant Detention Camp Proposed for Concord
Is Also a Superfund Site
Defunct Bay Area Navy site may still be contaminated
Adam Brinklow / SF Curbed.com
(June 25, 2018) -- According to a Friday report by TIME magazine, the US Navy may be planning to detain tens of thousands of immigrants (accused of illegally entering the country) in Concord, despite the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] still lists the Concord Naval Weapons Station as a Superfund site, a designation reserved for some of the most toxic places in the country.
TIME cited a Navy draft memo that singled out potential detention locales in three states, including the Concord base, which could hold up to 47,000 people in what the publication describes as a proposed "tent city."
The proposal calls for immigration camps that are "temporary and austere."
The magazine cautions that "the military has not yet been ordered to construct these new detention facilities," but cites the existence of the memo as an indication that the organs of the federal government are preparing to create new detention facilities on a large scale.
Dating to World War II, the Concord base -- located in the largest city in Contra Costa County -- went out of service in 2007, although gradual shutdown began years prior.
The federal government determined that decades of munitions storage had resulted in toxic conditions at the Weapons Station, and the EPA has designated it a Superfund site. According to the EPA website, longstanding cleanup efforts are not yet complete:
In November 2005, WPNSTA Concord was recommended for partial closure and realignment under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.
The final BRAC determination that was made resulted in about half of the facility (the Tidal Area) being transferred to the Department of the Army in 2008. The remaining area (the Inland Area) was closed, transferred and redeveloped.
Initial actions such as wetland restoration and excavation of contaminated soils are helping to protect nearby populations and the environment. [. . .] To protect human health and the environment, site investigations and long-term cleanup are ongoing.
Potentially hazardous elements in the soil include lead, mercury, arsenic, and "unexploded ordinance."
The EPA does report that "there are currently no unacceptable human exposure pathways" at the base and that the locale "may have redevelopment occurring on portions of the site and may be eligible for additional redevelopment."
However, the Concord site's report card also cautions about "expected groundwater contamination" and that "actions are still needed to address contamination."
The city has frequently expressed a desire to redevelop the Weapons Station, and mega developer Lennar has planned a large mixed-use project there for years. Concord even offered the base as a potential site for Amazon's new corporate headquarters in 2017.
But the station remains a Navy asset. In early 2017, a Navy profile on the base indicated it was still working "to make the property environmentally suitable for transfer."
On the EPA's 100-point Hazard Ranking System, the Concord base's score is 50. Generally, a 28.5 or higher indicates toxicity sufficient to demand cleanup, and 50 is a greater than average score. For context, Treasure Island's former Navy base is a 48.77.
The EPA, the Navy, and the city of Concord have not yet responded to Curbed SF's queries about whether the base is appropriate for short-term occupation. The TIME report does not make clear which parts of the base detainees may occupy.
In response to reports, the city of Concord released the following statement on Friday:
The City of Concord is very concerned to learn of news reports that the Navy may be planning a detention center at the Concord Naval Weapons Station. The Navy has not communicated information to the City about any such plans, although we have reached out to them upon hearing these reports.
While the City of Concord is currently negotiating to acquire and eventually develop the Naval Weapons Station, we do not have jurisdiction or control over that federally-owned property.
Last September, the City of Concord passed a resolution affirming Concord's commitment to being a welcoming, inclusive, tolerant and supportive community for all. We do not feel that a detention center within city limits represents those values.
Congressman Mike DeSaulnier, who represents the Concord area, called the proposal "absolute madness" on Friday, adding "I oppose it wholeheartedly" and "we will fight this in every way we can."
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, for noncommercial, educational purposes.